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Asynchronous Changes in Vegetation, Runoff and Erosion in the Nile River Watershed during the Holocene
Blanchet, C.; Frank, M.; Schouten, S. (2014). Asynchronous Changes in Vegetation, Runoff and Erosion in the Nile River Watershed during the Holocene. PLoS One 9(12): e115958. dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0115958

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In: PLoS One. Public Library of Science: San Francisco. ISSN 1932-6203, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Blanchet, C., more
  • Frank, M.
  • Schouten, S., more

Abstract
    The termination of the African Humid Period in northeastern Africa during the early Holocene was marked by the southward migration of the rain belt and the disappearance of the Green Sahara. This interval of drastic environmental changes was also marked by the initiation of food production by North African hunter-gatherer populations and thus provides critical information on human-environment relationships. However, existing records of regional climatic and environmental changes exhibit large differences in timing and modes of the wet/dry transition at the end of the African Humid Period. Here we present independent records of changes in river runoff, vegetation and erosion in the Nile River watershed during the Holocene obtained from a unique sedimentary sequence on the Nile River fan using organic and inorganic proxy data. This high-resolution reconstruction allows to examine the phase relationship between the changes of these three parameters and provides a detailed picture of the environmental conditions during the Paleolithic/Neolithic transition. The data show that river runoff decreased gradually during the wet/arid transition at the end of the AHP whereas rapid shifts of vegetation and erosion occurred earlier between 8.7 and ~6 ka BP. These asynchronous changes are compared to other regional records and provide new insights into the threshold responses of the environment to climatic changes. Our record demonstrates that the degradation of the environment in northeastern Africa was more abrupt and occurred earlier than previously thought and may have accelerated the process of domestication in order to secure sustainable food resources for the Neolithic African populations.

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